By Veronica Coons
HOISINGTON - At the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell congratulated Clara Barton Hospital for its successful efforts in acquiring a Pathways grant for Northern Barton County. The grant will provide funding for a community health coordinator for the next three years. The coordinator will work with the city and businesses in the service area to come up with ways to encourage and support healthy lifestyles for people in the community. Some of the possibilities include working with area restaurants, grocery and convenience stores to provide healthy options from the selections offered, or to provide rewards to customers that travel by foot or by bicycle. Those who take a pledge to do so may be eligible for implementation grants that can go towards capital improvements like facade renovations.
“More and more people are getting excited about wellness,” Mitchell said Wednesday in an interview with the Tribune. “Things like walking and bicycling are beginning to become more mainstream.”
Monday night, he reminded the council of some of the ways already within reach that the city could encourage healthy lifestyles in Hoisington.
Pointing to the $2,082.83 presented to the city from Be Well Barton County at the June 27 meeting, he suggested looking into the possibility of implementing one of the three proposed connecting routes that were part of the Bike and Pedestrian Wellness Plan for Hoisington.
According to the plan this shortest, easiest to implement route, H2, is described as the 4th/Pine/5th, Bicentennial Park to Cedar route. Because it is only one mile long with light traffic, wayfinding signs are all the plan suggests to implement the route. Four route signs and three guide signs to be exact.
“Be Well Barton County’s contribution was certainly very generous and much appreciated,” Mitchell said. “It will also require additional support from the city. There appears to be support, but we will have to look at the costs involved,” Mitchell said.
One of the things most people do not understand is the cost involved in simply putting up signage, Mitchell said. The federal government created a standard for signage, the National Manual of Uniform Traffic Code Devices, in 2009. States had two years to adopt the standard, which required Hoisington to change its traffic signs to comply. It took about four years to complete the work, which cost the city nearly $30,000, he said.
Consistency is a key part of the master plan for the county, and this first route in Hoisington will need to be linkable to other connecting routes that may be implemented in the future.
In a related discussion, the council decided to make an immediate change to the Bicentennial Park path.
By consensus, the members agreed allowing bicyclists to use the path would be acceptable. Member Chris Smith pointed out there are some who would appreciate the safety of the path. At eight feet wide, it can accommodate both uses, and at exactly one mile in length, it’s convenient to measure for users interested.
All members, however, agreed skateboards would continue to be banned from the path.